Where do cuts and GDPR leave public sector communications?

Job satisfaction among public sector communications teams seems to have flat-lined or even fallen over the previous year with on-going funding constraints taking their toll on morale.

A survey carried out by LG Communications in partnership with Panacea Applications Ltd, showed that, in 2018, only 44% of employees recorded high morale for their team and good personal job satisfaction, compared to 48% the year before. Similar figures for 2017 showed that 66% felt their efforts were valued by their managers.

Frustrated work patterns

While 81% felt that their team was effective in meeting their core objectives, results investigating work patterns indicate that only 28% of individuals feel they have time to fulfill their work, continuing the downward trend of previous years. Reacting to unplanned or urgent work requests, as well as having to complete time-consuming administrative tasks, such as data entry and record keeping, diverted almost 50% of their time from their core priorities.

Prospects for the future don’t appear rosy, with 88% fearing that future budget cuts will impact on their ability to deliver a high-quality service. Many felt further frustrated by having to work with fragmented, inefficient and labour -intensive systems.

GDPR challenges

The introduction in May 2018 of the new GDPR regulations will have affected communications teams across the country. 94% of respondents said that their team held or used assets, such as photographs of people, which are defined as personal data under the regulations. As only 16% stated that they have always recorded and managed consents and usage rights of such assets in a compliant image library, this represented a major challenge for many departments.

Focusing ahead

Looking to the future, survey respondents highlighted their priorities for the coming 12 months. The results emboldened show those to which Panacea Software can make a significant difference.


Corporate or strategic planning – 66%

More efficient ways of working – 63%

Increase use of digital, online and social media – 56%

Encourage self-service – 45%

Income generation – 44%

Brand management – 40%

Cost savings – 39%

Performance monitoring and improvement – 36%

Share services, collaborate or work in partnership – 31%

Reduce print, paper volumes – 23%

GDPR compliance – 18%

Procurement – 11%

Reduce staff numbers – 11%

Better value from suppliers – 6%

Out-source services to other organisations – 6%

Bring in-house services currently managed by external providers – 3%

Other – 1%

Commercial case-studies – where Panacea can help

Automating work flows and cutting the cost of administration

Any solutions to alleviate low-value, mundane processes will have positive outcomes for all these statistics. In 2016-17, Haringey Council extended their use of Panacea Software to help them automate their workflows, which according to Operations Marketing Officer – Vij Taylor has “cut administration time by 80% whilst improving customer service”.

Lesley Gordon, who is head of communications at Haringey, went on to explain: “Without Panacea, we’d need at least one other person to do the business processing and manage the administration that Panacea does for us. The time it saves us in terms of turning jobs around is a considerable cost saving.”

In view of staff cuts (a third of respondents reported their team had decreased over the last 12 months) and with little hope that this trend will fizzle out, these sorts of efficiencies become increasingly vital if teams want to maintain service quality.

Taking stock on GDPR

No-one argues the necessity of data protection, but GDPR adds a layer of bureaucracy that stretched departments would benefit from being able to implement swiftly and seamlessly. At Buckinghamshire County Council, they have employed Panacea Software’s Asset Manager to manage all their photographs and images, using it to create a centrally controlled photo library that allows them to tie consents with assets. Kim Parfitt, Assistant Head of Communication, said: “Panacea Software allows us to set clear parameters for access and use of our assets, and prevents access when consents are withdrawn or expire. The software is easy to use, and we feel it is well supported by the responsive and proactive service we receive from Panacea’s team.”

A testimonial

Time and again, testimonials from departments using Panacea Software illustrate the value in terms of cost and time-savings that the software reaps. It is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ package, having a high degree of flexibility that allows users to develop bespoke systems based on their current structures. Its relevance to the demands of current practice in the prevailing climate warrants further investigation by those wishing to provide good service with dwindling resources.

“The Panacea team has been incredibly supportive throughout, taking on suggestions and helping the council to achieve the best, tailored system for the service and for customers’ needs. The team has worked tirelessly with suppliers, and continues to provide support to ensure they understand the technicalities of the system and provide a seamless service.”
Eddie Coates-Madden, Head of Communications, Sheffield City Council

For more information on Panacea Software please visit our website or call/email T. 0207 976 0116 E.


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